'60 Minutes' Executive Producer Out At CBS
DAVID GREENE, HOST:
One of the most venerated investigative news programs in the nation is looking for new leadership following misconduct and sexual harassment allegations. CBS News yesterday announced the departure of "60 Minutes" executive producer Jeff Fager, who ran the show for 15 years. In its 50-year history, "60 Minutes" had only two leaders, and Fager was one of them. His departure, of course, comes two days after CBS CEO Les Moonves was forced out following widespread allegations of sexual assault and harassment.
Let's turn to CNN business and media reporter Hadas Gold. Hi, Hadas.
HADAS GOLD: Hello.
GREENE: So what exactly is the case here against Jeff Fager and why he was let go?
GOLD: So Jeff Fager was not let go necessarily directly related to those allegations of misconduct. They actually were related to a text message that he sent to a CBS reporter who was reporting on those allegations. Now, the text message was initially first revealed by Fager himself after his departure was announced. He claimed that his language was harsh, and that is something journalists normally receive, but that one such note should not result in termination after 36 years.
The CBS reporter actually later went on air on "CBS Evening News" and read that text message aloud. And in it, Jeff Fager pretty much threatens her and says that, be careful because if you report on these damaging claims without your own reporting, there will be serious problems. And he said that people have lost their jobs trying to harm him. And that is what caused his departure.
GREENE: This is just amazing. I mean, it's the kind of situation, I guess, comes up when you have, like, a news organization trying to cover itself. I mean, the allegations against Fager in The New Yorker were incredibly serious. I mean, inappropriately touching employees, harassment, not responding to complaints. He denied those things. But then, as you said, the CBS reporter Jericka Duncan begins covering the story. And we have a little tape of her on the air last night.
(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "CBS EVENING NEWS")
JERICKA DUNCAN: Fager, in a text, said to me, quote, "if you repeat these false accusations without any of your own reporting to back them up, you will be held responsible for harming me." He went on to say, be careful. There are people who lost their jobs trying to harm me. And if you pass on these damaging claims without your own reporting to back them up, that will become a serious problem."
GREENE: So this - I mean, separate from those very serious charges, this was also a news executive who, it appears, really crossed the line.
GOLD: Right. And threatening a reporter who was tasked with covering their own story. Now, it is stunning how CBS has covered itself, and it should be commended for what they've done and really aired it out there. And after that clip on "CBS Evening News," the anchor Jeff Glor told her that it was important for her to know that the entire team was behind her. And it's clear by how quickly CBS acted that this was a - this just completely crossed the line.
I do have to say, though, that there is conflicting emotions at CBS right now because Jeff Fager was known as just an incredible producer. He had a wonderful eye. And there is a fear that things will change in a bad way for "60 Minutes," which has been such an important news product in the United States.
GREENE: Yeah. What is the culture right now at CBS? I mean, you have Charlie Rose last November. You now have Les Moonves this week. Now you have Fager, who you say journalistically is so respected. What does it feel like for people working there?
GOLD: I mean, it's amazing because CBS used to be known as this place that didn't have the conflict and the turmoil that all the other places have. And now they've had what could be 10 years of turmoil in six months. And so there's a lot of people who are worried about what will happen to CBS in the future. But as we saw, for example, with Charlie Rose, they switched up the morning show anchors, and seemed - things seemed to be going OK.
And there is a sense of, perhaps, hope that maybe some new, fresh talent will emerge, maybe a little bit more diversity you might see in some of these executives and that it could spell good news for CBS. But it's clearly - it has not been helpful for morale there right now. And a lot of journalists - it's hard when you become the news, and that's something that they're all dealing with right now.
GREENE: Hadas Gold of CNN. Thanks so much.
GOLD: Thank you.
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